May Contain Gluten…

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This picture of my gfbff Ari perfectly encapsulates how I often feel at the grocery store when finding out naturally gluten-free products may contain gluten!

A term I have grown to hate is “may contain gluten”. Why do these plain whole almonds maybe contain gluten? I understand the argument for cross contamination but the label makes me nervous. While companies are trying to cover their liability by saying may contain it reminds me way too much of the cheapest possible boxed wine I drank many times while backpacking in Australia in my early 20s. After drinking it throughout our travels we realized it may contain milk, fish and eggs! Bottom line those of us with celiac disease should avoid “may contain foods” but it is nevertheless annoying to have to avoid “safe” foods because of possible contamination in processing.

This post a little bit of a rant but it is something that I see almost everyday and as someone who loves to eat it haunts many of my meals and grocery store outings. I will take this as a sign it’s time to eat even healthier this year, cooking more at home and going to that second store to find that cayenne pepper that is marked gluten-free. It’s extra work, but feeling well is worth it. By bringing light to this and voicing our concern to companies we can make them better aware of the importance of avoiding cross-contamination and creating truly gluten-free and allergen-free products.

Do you ever eat products that should be gluten-free but state that they may contain gluten on the label?

Gluten-free Iceland- Part II

Hiking Landmannalaugar

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We booked a 5 day trekking tour with Extreme Iceland and my partner chose this company as it is well regarded, but also as it has a gluten-free meal option for about $10 dollars CAN extra each day. The meals worked out quite well and I had lots of gluten-free options to eat. It is always a little complicated to cook in a shared space and keep everything gluten-free but another guest on the trek was also gluten-free, which made me feel less like an outsider. Each night we prepared meals at a different lodge where we were staying with our small group and other hikers. Many of the meals for the group were prepared beforehand by a chef and were put together with a salad in the lodges we stayed at.

I made sure to always take part in the food prep which made everything easier and we had our own gluten-free box full of gf oats, snacks and breads. Each morning we would make sandwiches for the day to bring in our packs with gluten-free bread and there were lots of cookies and snacks. The tour guides spoke Icelandic so they could read the packaging of some of the products. Overall, it went well and while it was a challenge it was much easier that they provided so much gluten-free food and that most of the meals were gluten-free as is, such as salmon, potatoes and salad. Overall we has an amazing time on our trek. Our experience, guide and group were amazing and I highly recommend Extreme Iceland for anyone, gf or not.

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Snacking on my gluten-free sandwich during the day

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Always the prepared gluten-free boyfriend, he brought me extra supplies like Annie’s for the night we ate lamb that was gluten-free but too much meat for this former vegetarian

Gluten-free salmon on the BBQ

Gluten-free salmon on the BBQ

Yummy gluten-free veggie soup

Yummy gluten-free veggie soup

Our group at the dinner table

Our group at the dinner table

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Natural hot springs

Natural hot springs

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The Blue Lagoon

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Enjoying the Blue Lagoon

Lava Restaurant was very accommodating, they were able to prepare most of the menu gluten-free and were even able to prepare us a crėme brûlée upon request when we didn’t fancy the gluten-free option on the menu. My main gripe is that my meal was the most expensive of the trip and by far not the best we had in Iceland. But we did thoroughly enjoy our time at the Blue Lagoon and had a super relaxing time.

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Lobster Soup

Lobster Soup

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The delicious dessert they made on request


Basically, if you like fish, lamb and yogurt it is relatively easy to go gluten-free in Iceland. I hope you get a chance to one day visit this magical place!

Gluten-free in Iceland- Part I

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Seljalandfoss

This past July my partner and I spent 10 days in Iceland. We ate our way through Reykjavik, did some day trips and a 5 day trekking tour. We had an incredible time and the gluten-free options were pretty decent. As usual when traveling, it’s cheaper and easier to bring some snacks like granola, nuts and energy bars from home. Iceland is expensive and while meals are pricey we were able to eat some delicious and fancy meals for less than $90 CAN for two. You just have to watch what you order.

I found Gluten is my Bitch’s post about Iceland super helpful in planning where to eat: https://glutenismybitch.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/gluten-free-iceland-blue-lagoon-to-rotten-shark/

Below are some of the places we ate in Reykjavik and Part II features the Blue Lagoon and our Trek.

Reykjavik

We had lunch our first day at Fiskfelagid. This restaurant came highly recommended by a friend and we opted for lunch since it was almost half price and dinners can run around $60 CAN for an entrée. We got to eat outside which was lovely. Our lunches were delicious and it was a great way to start a trip. Most of the dishes offered could be prepared gluten-free.

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Lunch at Fiskfelagid

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The fish with veggies was amazing


We had dinner at Sakebarinn our first night.  I had seen this place listed online as gluten-free friendly and they were very knowledgable on gluten-free and had gf soy sauce. We had a delicious meal and without alcohol it was also decently affordable.

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The following we had dinner at Hradlestin, an Indian restaurant. We went to their more casual location and ate at there from takeout containers, which was perfect since we were exhausted after an all day tour. Most of the options on the menu were gluten-free and we had leftovers for the next day.

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When we were walking around we found  Reykjavik Chips . They only served fries so they were all gluten-free and all their sauces, except for 2, were gluten-free as well. It’s a nice casual place to pick-up a snack. I always love perfect fries, especially when I’m travelling.

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I could eat these fries with chive sauce all day!

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The night we got back from our trek we had dinner with some of our new friends at Snaps. They had quite a few gluten-free options and our group had a great dinner. My fish was delish and there was almost too much!!

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Bonus Grocery store is where we picked up our gluten-free snacks, pasta and some Skyr yogurt. The store we visited right downtown had a whole mini aisle of gluten-free products filled with yummy flatbreads and cookies.

http://www.bonus.is/

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Gluten-free around Sandbanks National Park

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In June I got to take a mini-vacation with a group of friends to the Sandbanks in Ontario. We rented a great house near the Sandbanks National park and visited a few beaches and just relaxed. While we ate at the house most of the time the two places we went we visited were:

The County Cider Company

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We did a cider tasting for $1.50 and then sat outside and drank some pints. They were only serving snacks at the time so I just had cider. I highly recommend stopping by if you are in the area.

www.countycider.com

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The County Canteen

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For dinner the next day we ate at this gastro pub in the center of Picton that has a quite a few gf options on their menu and also can adapt some of the other dishes to be gf as well. We had chicken wings and curry. If you are in the area and this is a decent option for a gluten-free meal. There was also live music and a fun atmosphere.

http://www.thecountycanteen.com/

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The Sobey’s in Picton is a gluten-free dream, they even had gluten-free graham crackers for smores! So no need to bring stuff from home.

Happy gluten-free Summer travels!

Gluten-free in London

Little Venice

Little Venice, near the Truscott Arms

I recently spent 2.5 days in London and ate all the gluten-free things! London was great for gluten-free.  I did a little research before I left (always recommended) and I had an amazing time eating my way across the city. I found great options everywhere I went, even at the airport. We also spent some time in Preston and Manchester where I also didn’t have a problem finding things to eat.

Honest Burger

We stayed near Portobello Road so we had lunch at Honest Burger.  This was a great find as all the burgers could be made gluten-free. The staff were friendly and our meals were delicious. I highly recommend having a burger here. It had been a really long time since I had a chicken burger, maybe 12 years! They also had a great drink menu and we sat looking out onto the market.

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Gluten-free chicken burger with fries

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Gluten-free beer!

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People watching from the table on Portobello Road

Dishoom

We then had dinner at Dishoom and it was amazing. I had heard about this Indian restaurant a few times and decided we had to try it. They had a gluten-free menu and all the choices my table wanted to order were gluten-free. There are really long waits, but we waited 30 minutes outside and then another 30 at the bar but it was really worth it. There are 4 locations in London and we visited the one near King’s Cross.

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Raita & dahl

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We shared a bunch of dishes…

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The gluten-free dessert & drink menu at Dishoom

Borough Market

The next day we had brunch at Roast, right in Borough market. The location was great but the food was so-so, not worth the price at all. You are better off getting a pie or some cupcakes in the market the Free From Bakehouse. Everything we tried from this stand was delicious.

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Roast

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Borough Market

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The Free From Bakehouse in Borough Market

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The Free From Bakehouse

Corner Room

For dinner we went to the Corner Room with some friends of my partner. We had a delicious dinner and most of the dishes could be made gluten-free. My main was amazing.

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Tomato Starter at Corner Room

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Dessert at Corner Room

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Corner Room’s version of Eton Mess

Ottolenghi

The next day we walked through the Columbia Road Flower Market and went to the Spitalfields Ottolenghi location for lunch. We each had a main with a choice of two delicious salads and most of the options were gluten-free already. We also took home some delicious meringues for dessert.

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Columbia Road Flower Market

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An assortment of gf salads at Ottolenghi

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Gluten-free lunch at Ottolenghi

Truscott Arms

For dinner we went to the Truscott Arms and I had amazing gluten-free fish and chips. It was such a treat to be able to have flaky and delicious fish and chips. After most of the plate and two ciders I was very full and happy despite my sadness over ending our 3 week vacation. My partner had the Sunday Roast with all the fixings.  We had a great time at this pub near Little Venice and recommend it if you are in the area and craving fish and chips.

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Cider & gluten-free fish & chips at the Truscott Arms

Tips on Hosting a Gluten-Free Brunch

Gluten-Free Brunch

This summer I hosted two brunches with some of my favourite people at my new apartment. I find brunches are a great options as they are quite easy to prepare and I find them to be a more relaxing form of entertaining. My number one tip when hosting any event, whether it is a brunch or cocktail,  is to keep everything gluten-free when possible as it minimizes stress and any risk of cross-contamination. When everything is GF I can fully relax and enjoy brunch. I like to take advantage of an opportunity to break bread with friends (GF bread of course) without having to be anxious about what has touched my eggs. Gluten-free food and great company makes for the perfect get-together in my books.

The last brunch I hosted had gluten-free pastries from Le Marquis, egg muffins with cheese, fruit, smoked salmon, bacon, cheeses, coffee, tea, fresh juices and of course mimosas.

Here is a link to an easy egg muffin recipe http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/egg-muffins-clinton-kelly. These egg muffins are fool proof and you can add anything you have on hand like veggies and cheeses. They are also a good option as a snack or light meal during the week.

Gluten-free brunch

gluten-free egg muffins

Gluten-free brunch

The not so fun part of living with celiac disease

Passing out on the grass from exhaustion while walking around Quebec City after getting 'glutened'.

Passing out on the grass from exhaustion while walking around Quebec City after getting ‘glutened’.

I have been sick all week. I have a mouth full of canker sores. I am exhausted. I feel like my stomach is a toxic dump. And I am up most nights in the washroom. I have hit my low. I try incredibly hard to be positive about having celiac disease but weeks like this really bring me down. I love traveling and eating out but eating out while traveling is what made me so sick and there is very little those of us with celiac can do about it.

Option 1: Travel and eat out and take chances.

Option 2: Stay home, eat safe and have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

Option 3: Balance of option 1 and 2.

I try my best with option 3 but it is hard adjusting no matter how long it has been (over 10 years since diagnosis and 8 years eating strictly gluten-free). This is a bit of a rant but I think I should also represent the reality of celiac disease sometimes. Having celiac disease sucks and while I will continue to be positive about it the majority of the time and share recipes and gluten-free tips for eating out I will take moments here and there to recognize the pain and frustration. It is not fun to be sick for a week and not feel right for a week later. It sucks to miss out on birthdays and dinners to stay home being ill. It is not fun to spend vacation in serious pain. It’s even more stressful to be the person who cancels work meetings at the last minute because they can’t leave the washroom. It all sucks. Rant done.

Hope everyone is taking care of their diets and feeling well. I tend to take my health for granted until I get a bad exposure and I am reminded why I have to be so careful.

Any tips on what helps you when you have been glutened?